Thanks to my daughter and her friends, I have been exposed to the computer game “Angry Birds.” In it, some nasty pigs try to steal the eggs of a group of birds. These birds then fight back by flinging themselves (with our help) in an attempt to destroy the pigs, who sit laughing at the whole matter. I am most intrigued by the fact that much of what I learned in my first college physics class can be put to use to progress through the game.

# Rosemarie Emanuele

## "Math Geek Mom"

Although she holds a Ph.D. in economics from Boston College, **Rosemarie Emanuele** is a professor and the chair of the Department of Mathematics at Ursuline College in Pepper Pike, Ohio, just outside of Cleveland. She loves to teach math but also pursues research related to the economics of nonprofit organizations and volunteer labor, and has published in both economics and interdisciplinary journals — as well as in the book that inspired this blog. She is the proud mother of a wonderful daughter.

To reach this person, click here.

## Most Recent Articles

March 22, 2012

In statistics, we often talk of "outliers," observations that appear so far from the average that they teach us something about the underlying data and how they came to be. This is a concept that has gained attention recently as the month of March has so far distinguished itself as a true outlier in this part of the country.

March 15, 2012

I often laugh at the politics of taking coffee from a shared coffee maker. The person who takes the last cup needs to make a new pot, so no one wants to be the person to take that last serving. To avoid this, people often take only half of a cup, leaving a half of a cup for the next (and presumably last) person. This can go on for a while, and could, in theory, go on indefinitely, as dividing by two with each thirsty but lazy person will never actually result in an empty coffee maker.

March 8, 2012

As is the case with most teachers, I have a stash of tricks that I teach my students to help them learn certain concepts that appear in my lectures. From the “Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally” of algebra to “Soh, cah, toa” of trigonometry to smiling, positive faces and frowning, negative faces to help calculus students remember the relationship between concavity and second derivatives, these techniques help difficult concepts become imprinted in the minds of students.

March 1, 2012

As I rolled into work on Monday, I was greeted by a friend from the Chemistry department rushing out of the building. She frantically told me that there had been a shooting at her daughter’s school. She said that five students had been shot, that she was off to see if her daughter was ok, and to please pass the word on to her department chair. She was off before I could give her a hug, but the scene haunted me all day as more bits of information became available and the story grew more horrible.

February 23, 2012

In 1900, the mathematician David Hilbert listed 100 mathematical problems that he felt would be good problems to address in the next century. Many of these have been solved, but some still wait for solutions. I found myself thinking of this recently as I realized that the season of Lent had begun. While this is traditionally a season of fasting and repentance, many today also approach this season as an opportunity to find ways to bring about a more just world. I found myself thinking of the Hilbert problems because it occurred to me that those of us in higher education could bring our collective minds together to address several issues that, like the Hilbert questions of years ago, seem to need addressing.

February 16, 2012

In economics, we talk about a free market bringing consumers and producers to an allocation that will be in everyone’s best interest, a result that does not require any consideration by the participants of the well being of others in the economy. This idea, sometimes called the “Adam Smith Hypothesis”, relies on several assumptions, some of which make sense and some which might be suspect in our modern economy. One of the assumptions needed for such a powerful result is the assumption of free information, that those in the economy have access to reliable information that they do not need to pay for. This assumption comes to mind when I realize that I am one of the last people in North America who is not yet a member of Facebook.

February 9, 2012

There are many times in math that we encounter behavior that appears to repeat or cycle back on itself. For example, one often finds strings of repeating digits when trying to convert a rational number into a decimal, or one can observe cyclical behavior associated with the trigonometric functions. Such behavior came to mind recently as I realized that we are moving from winter into a spring that will eventually turn into summer, and that, as a mom, I needed to plan for such a change in seasons.

February 2, 2012

I once attended a seminar presented by the National Endowment for the Humanities on the Philosophy of Math. As an economist teaching in a math department, I was obviously the participant with the most unusual background, as most of the other participants were philosophers of math, many teaching in philosophy departments. While there, I recall one woman discussing the question of “is there a middle number?” Since there is no highest or lowest number, the question became whether there is a middle number. Her conclusion was that there is, indeed, a middle number, and that number is zero.

January 19, 2012

The Calculus book I use sometimes uses intricate algebra to find very involved ways to present an answer in the simplest form. Although I encourage students to manipulate terms to see how they arrived at the given answers, I sometimes find myself telling my students that “the meaning of life is not to match the answer in the back of the book.” This, of course, avoids the question of exactly what the meaning of life is. I thought of this recently as I spent a lovely afternoon with a friend and her daughter watching a production